« ElőzőTovább »
or 4747. Vulgar Æra, 33 or 34.
45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in Jerusalem. with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David;
46 Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.
47 But Solomon built him an house.
48 Howbeit, the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,
49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?
50 Hath not my hand made all these things?
Stephen being interrupted in his Defence, reproaches the
ACTS Vii. 51-54.
51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers perse
Selden and Beger, either to be the same as Saturn, or to be
I have already, in another place (k) remarked the apparent
(a) Vitringa Observationes Sacræ. (b) Dnbia vexata, p. 948. (c) Hale's Analysis of Chronology, vol. ii. p. 450. (d) On the Minor Prophets; on Amos v. 26. (e) De legibus Hebræorum, p. 666. (f) Selden ii. 34. (g) Lightfoot's Works, vol. viii. p. 434. (h) Origin of Pagan Idolatry, vol. ii. p. 491. (i) Faber ut sup. vol. ii. p. 86. (k) Arrangement of the Old Testament, note on the Idolatry of Jeroboam, vol. ii. p. 117.
REPROACHES THE SANHEDRIM-CHAP. IX.
cuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of Jerusalem.
53 Who have received the law by the disposition of
"Schoetgen (a), Whitby (b), Grotius (c), and others, would consider this passage as referring to the attendance of the angels at the promulgation of the law on Mount Sinai. The Jews founded this opinion on the use of the word x, in the Pentateuch, instead of mm; which word, though it is a common name for God, is applied to the angels. Compare Ps. xcvii. 7. with Heb. i. 6. and Ps. viii. 6. with Heb. ii. 8. The Jews were
-He as-עלה אצל המלאכים,also accustomed to say of Moses
cended to the angels, who neither eat nor drink, and with
Parkhurst would interpret the passage with reference to the
of the golden calf. If εἰς διαταγας ̓Αγγελων might admit of
But if this clause will not bear that interpretation, it is
Vulgar Era, Stephen praying for his Murderers, is stoned to Death.
ACTS vii. 54 to the end. viii. part of ver. 1 and 2.
54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
56 And said, Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God 4o.
not kept the law. Ye desired prophets, and ye had them, yet
If the severe language of the martyred Stephen was justly
(a) Hora Hebraica, vol. i. p. 738. (b) Whitby in loc. (c) Ap Critici Sacri, vol. viii. in loc. (d) Midrasch in Jalkut Simeoni. Part II. fol. 118.-2 ap Schoetgen. (e) Works, vol. viii. p. 436.
40 The great High Priest, who had passed into the holy of holies to intercede for man, looked dowu from heaven, and opened the veil of the firmament, that his first martyr might gaze on his exaltation and glory. The bystanders were too much engaged with the work of destruction upon earth to look up to heaven; and even if they had so done, it is by no means certain that the appearance of the Shechinah would have been manifested to them also. It is related by St. Luke as a fact, and not as a vision; neither is it unphilosophical to believe that He who had visibly ascended into heaven, and had promised to prepare a place there for those who love him, should impart to his holy and suffering servant, in his hour of martyrdom, a prospect of those celestial scenes to which his spirit would soon be admitted-the exceeding great reward of the righteous.
We do not yet understand the nature of the universe of God. The blue expanse that encircles our planet on all sides, prevents us from seeing much of space in the day time. Our view is then limited to the sun, whose distance is comparatively small. In the night our view is bounded by the magnificent fret-work, with which the God of Christianity and of creation has spangled the beautiful arch above us. The distance of the visible stars is so great, that the intellect of man is bewildered in the attempt to comprehend it. If we call in the assistance of
PRAYS FOR HIS MURDERERS-CHAP. IX.
57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped Jerusalem. riod, 4747. their ears, and ran upon him with one accord. Vulgar Æra,
58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him and the telescope, we add to our wonder and embarrassment, and when we seem to have arrived at the very verge of the visible creation, our reason still convinces us, that the telescope of the greatest power has taught us but little. The wildest flight of imagination, which delights itself with the theories of stars whose light has not yet arrived at the solar system; and of innumerable clusters of constellations, invisible to man, which extend to infinity, appears but the calm and sober effort of reason, when the subject of its thoughts is "so great a God, as our God (a)."
The Christian, however, must propose the question to himself: amidst all this waste of words (b), "Where is the heaven of his religion? Where is the abode of the body of Christ, which visibly ascended into another place through the firmament above us?" The Christian cannot be defrauded of his consolations by the powers of the telescope, nor the loftiest flights of imagination. The God who made the noble universe, gave also Christianity to man, to direct him to an existence in a state of immortality. But if there is a state, or condition, there must also be a place, in which we shall dwell; and that place, we are repeatedly assured, is the same which the body of Christ now possesses. If St. Stephen was permitted to see the Shechinah in that place, his visual faculties must have been so strengthened that the inconceivable distance between earth and heaven was, as it were, annihilated. St. Stephen, filled with the Holy Ghost, saw, in the flesh, his blessed Redeemer. The heaven of heavens was brought near to man: and the first Christian martyr was enabled to behold it, as a pledge and earnest of his own immortal happiness; and through him a pledge to all those who by the same faith shall offer themselves living and acceptable sacrifices to God. When we consider the sublime and glorious realities to which we are destined, and the manner in which life and im mortality have been secured to us by the crucified Saviour, the manifested God of mankind, surely we lose sight of our great and invaluable privileges, when we permit ourselves to be enthralled by the pleasures and attractions of this evil world. The faith of a Christian has done very little for man, if it does not enable him to break the chains which kept the heathen in bondage, and deliver him from the galling tyranny of unrestrained passions.
Witsius, who has permitted few points of theology entirely to escape him, has remarked on the circumstance of St. Stephen seeing the heavens opened (c).
(a) Psalm 1xxvii. 13.
(b) Look down-thro' this wide waste of worlds,
On a poor breathing particle of dust
Or lower-an immortal in his crimes, &c. &c.
YOUNG'S NIGHT THOUGHTS.
(c) Neque incredibile videri debet, quod is qui dedit homini soler-
Julian Pe- the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's" Jerusalem. riod, 4747. feet, whose name was Saul.
59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit "2.
41 Many commentators have attempted, from a comparison of this expression with that in St. Paul's Epistle to Philemon, in which he styles himself Paul the aged, to discover the probable age of that apostle at this time. Others again think, that the latter passage ought to be rendered Paul the ambassador. No argument for the former supposition can be safely deduced from the expression here referred to, as the original word is used with great latitude. In the Septuagint, which is the best lexicon for the signification of words in the New Testament, the Greek word vɛaviokoç is used for soldiers, 2 Macc. xii. 27. or men of mature age. It corresponds also with wx, men, Josh. ii. 1. and 23; and, among the classical writers, it is used in the same manner. Kuinoel quotes Phavorinus, to prove that it described any age between twenty-three and forty; and his authority is confirmed by Diogenes Laertius, 8-10. and Xenophon Cyr. viii. 3, &c. where the word vɛavioкoç occurs, and avno, § 11. is immediately after used as an exquivalent expression.
42 That the exclamation of Stephen is sufficient to prove his belief, and the belief therefore of the early Church in the divinity of Christ, appears further from the manner in which the Jews were accustomed to speak of death. Their common saying was, That was the most easy death, when the Shechinah received the spirit of the just man. Schoetgen quotes Jalkut Rubeni, fol. 86. 2. Justi perfecti non moriuntur ab angelo
השכינה מקבל כפשם Osculum ; nam נשיקה mortis, sed tantum per
ipsa Shechinah animas eorum suscipit (a.)
I shall always insist, says Bishop Horsley, in his answer to Priestley, that the blessed Stephen died a martyr to the Deity of Christ. The accusation against him was "his speaking blasphemous things against the temple and the law." You have forgotten to add the charge of blasphemy "against Moses and against God." The blasphemy against the temple and the law, probably, consisted in a prediction, that the temple was to be destroyed, and the ritual law of course abolished. The blasphemy against Moses was, probably, his assertion that the authority of Moses was inferior to that of Christ. But what could be the blasphemy against God? what was there in the doctrine of the apostles which could be interpreted as blasphemy against God, except it was this, that they ascribed divinity to one who had suffered publicly as a malefactor. That this was the blessed Stephen's crime none can doubt, who attends to the conclusion of the story: "He looked up stedfastly into heaven," says the inspired historian, "and saw the glory of God," (that is, he saw the splendour of the Shechinah; for that is what is meant when the glory of God is mentioned, as some. thing to be seen,) "and Jesus standing on the right hand of God." He saw the man Jesus in the midst of his divine light. His declaring what he saw, the Jewish rabble understood as an assertion of the divinity of Jesus. They stopped their ears; they overpowered his voice with their own clamours; and they hurried him out of the city, to inflict upon him the death which the law appointed for blasphemers. He died as he had lived, attesting the Deity of our crucified Master. His last breath